I became a vegetarian nearly 20 years ago, primarily with the goal of keeping my cholesterol down. Somewhere along the way, my health concerns took a back seat to my moral outrage about the inhumane treatment of animals.
My particular brand of vegetarianism means no meat, no poultry. I eat dairy and fish, but feel really guilty about it. Dan is mostly a vegetarian, although on rare occasions he’s been known to give in to a chili dog. A few years ago he researched mollusks and found that they do not have a complex nervous system which means they probably don’t feel pain. Happily, seared scallops found their way back on my plate.
But then Dan decided to give up leather. Not that he was ever the snazziest dresser in the world, but it’s pretty sad now to see him in his cloth belts and vinyl shoes. Leather is where I drew the first line in the sand. Selfish and vain, yes—but I am not giving up leather shoes anytime soon.
The next thing I know, Dan bans wool and silk as well. Why wool? The sheep seem perfectly happy to shed their big furry coats. Wool is very itchy, and scratching is challenging with four hooves. Nonetheless Dan explained, in a tone that was more condescending than necessary, “gathering wool requires unnecessary exploitation of sheep and supports the mutton industry.” As I pondered his point, I couldn’t help but think about how much I love the word mutton. It’s just a solid, satisfying word that actually sounds like something warm and delicious. Mutton stew and all. But I digress.
As for silk, it turns out that silkworms have a central nervous system and may feel pain when they are being boiled to death to make that beautiful rich fabric. One has to wonder what goes through their tiny silkworm brains at the moment of truth. Does their life flash before their eyes, nostalgically remembering when they were just carefree larvae? Do they fret over the things still left on their bucket list? Do they ponder what it all means, in a cosmic sense? Scientists are no doubt working day and night to find the answers.
Look, I feel as bad as the next guy about the sheep and the frackin’ silkworms, but metaphorically aren’t we all just waiting to get thrown into the pot?